Guidelines for preparing your Econ 431 problem sets
You should be aware that the problem sets in this course are long and difficult.
Under no circumstances should you put off looking at the problem set until the
night before it is due, because you probably won't manage to finish it even
if you stay up all night. Please take a look at the problem set early, try each
of the problems, and then look for help in the places where you're stuck. You
can compare notes with other students, ask questions in class, come to office
hours, or send emails to the professor with details about exactly where you're
Remember that you must write up your problem set independently, even if you've
collaborated with others in figuring out the solutions to the problems. Evidence
of plagiarism will be punished severely.
This document gives some further guidelines that will make it easier for the
preceptors to give you all the points you deserve for the work you've done.
- Organize your thoughts. It's wise to write down your ideas to help yourself
with the problem-solving process. Even if you don't fully manage to solve
the problem, you can get partial credit for having correct ideas. This depends
on you being able to convey your thoughts clearly, as you would in an English
- Explain yourself. If you are not sure whether you have explained your ideas
thoroughly, you probably have not. When you make a mistake, a complete explanation
gives you better chance of earning partial credit. Conversely, even if you
write down the correct numeric answer to a problem, you will receive zero
credit if your answer lacks an explanation.
- Charts and graphs are good ways to explain your thought processes. Please
make sure to include clear labels of the axes and of the functions being graphed.
- Please put the problem numbers next to the problems. This helps us keep
track of what problems you have done so that we do not miss any of your work.
It is fine to include the chapter problem numbers for your own benefit, but
be sure to include the problem set numbers as well.
- Please organize your work in the order described by the problem set. Most
people end up doing some of the work out of order. When you do this, we advise
starting each new problem on a separate page, so that you can easily sort
the problems into the correct order before turning them in.
- As a corollary to #2, please do not split problems up into separate sections
of your problem set.
- Always staple your work. We are not responsible for lost, unstapled pages.
- As a corollary to #4, please do not insert unstapled pages into your stapled
- Please write your problem numbers low enough on the page that the staple
will not cover them.
- Please write legibly.
- Please do not include extraneous sheets of paper, such as cover sheets or
rough drafts of your problem-set solutions.
- Consider using lined paper to make your work easier to read. Graph paper
can be even better.
- Students with poor handwriting sometimes choose to type some or all of their
problem sets (perhaps with hand-drawn graphs on top of the typed text). The
resulting neatness is much appreciated, and can make it easier for the preceptors
to award points.